Any help for weak legs complaint?


My dad constantly complains of leg weakness, says it's mostly in his thighs. He's walking less and less because of it, and walks with a very slow, shuffled step. When he goes to any store he seeks out a motorized cart to avoid walking much. He uses a cane for most walking otherwise. When we discussed this with his dr several months back the dr prescribed physical therapy, my dad went to that for 3 months or so, but says it was of no help. He stills goes to exercise 3 times a week, but we both know that's mostly socialization time. We recently added vitamin D and potassium supplements to his meds to see if that might help. This is really impacting his quality of life more than anything else, and has me wondering how much longer I can keep him in his house, as I know it's increasing his fall risk.

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I see the same thing in my 96-year old mom - she has more and more trouble getting up from a chair and the toilet. That inability to get up from the toilet was the defining factor in putting my dad in skilled nursing in the last three months of his life. Since your dad lives with you, I'd suggest you just have him stand up from a chair multiple times a day. Maybe start with five times and then work up to 10X per session. Once those thigh muscles atrophy, living independently becomes problematic in my experience. So just stand up, sit down a few times several times a day and see if he can build his muscles back up. You can build muscle into the 90s, so it is possible.
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Daughterof1930, maybe your Dad has a fear of falling.... I would recommend a rolling walker, one with hand brakes and a seat. My Dad felt awkward using a cane but he really like the secure feeling of using a rolling walker.... he can't praise enough how much he like that thing :)
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Does he walk straight with good posture or is his upper body leaning forward, perhaps from osteoporosis? If so, his body is out of balance and extra pressure is being exerted on his upper legs. I have to watch out for this tendency myself - I tend to slump over and lean forward and have to remind myself to walk with the grace of a ballet dancer - tall and straight. If he was in the service, try to get him into a military posture - at least it'll keep him upright and not leaning over.

It's unfortunate he thinks PT wasn't helpful, because that's the best way to get supervised exercise. What might not have been helpful though is the focus only on leg exercise. I'm not a therapist, so this is merely from my own experience:

When I had PT the first time for knee issues, the therapist incorporated upper body and core conditioning exercises. My back grew stronger, I felt stronger and could walk straighter, i.e., less leg fatigue.

Perhaps it's time to find a different therapy place. I've always found hospital associated facilities better than commercial facilities.

Is he potassium low, based on a blood test? I'm not sure about its relevance to his specific condition, but usually calcium and D3 are the supplements added.

One thing he can do which would help his lower legs more than upper, but still give him some exercise, is to use the pedal exercise device that's like riding a bike, but there's no stationary bike involved. He can sit in his favorite chair and pedal away, listening to music or watching tv if he prefers.
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Bring back the rocking chair. That gentle motion exercises both legs with every push and pull. It keeps the blood circulating in both legs. It loosens the ankles for walking. Like walking, it keeps the bowel stimulated to move. Rock on!
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